New vision for Vikingsholm |

New vision for Vikingsholm

Griffin Rogers
Vikingsholm Castle-
Photo taken by Kimberly Gramckow |

Vikingsholm, a historic castle-like home built at the head of Emerald Bay, is in the process of receiving some much-needed upgrades on its 85-year-old structures.

The costliest project involves restoring a sod roof on the servants’ quarters building. Bare spots can be seen on portions of the roof now, but supporters said they hope to bring it back to its “glory” days.

“Because of trees that had to be removed, and because of degradation of the watering system, the sod roof is not at its former wild grass glory,” said Heidi Doyle, executive director of the Sierra State Parks Foundation, which runs tours of the house and covers operating costs.

The roughly $90,000 project started with the commissioning of a study in July to make sure work being done is “sensitive to the fabric of the building” among other things, she said.

A report is now being developed so the project can be put out for bid later this year. If everything goes as planned, work will likely begin in spring.

It won’t be the first time upgrades have been made to the roof, but it will be the first time an assessment has been conducted on it.

Lead sheeting, which was used in the original sod roof to make it waterproof, was removed many years ago and replaced with a different material.

“It was repaired and restored with good intention by maintenance staff, but without the benefit of having assessments and reports done,” Doyle said.

The second big project involves upgrading the property’s electrical wiring, which has hardly been touched since Vikingsholm was built in 1929.

“Bottom line, we did that to make sure the house doesn’t burn down,” she said.

A study was also commissioned for the electrical project at the cost of $26,500. The overall project will cost about $60,000.

It, too, is going through the necessary processes before heading out for bid. Doyle said she expects the project to be complete some time in spring.

Other minor projects at the site include some minor repairs to a shingle roof and the replacement of some historic curtains.

Vikingsholm was constructed as a summer home for Lora Knight, who chose to give the 38-room mansion a Scandinavian theme. Knight traveled to Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden with her nephew, Lennart Palme, a Swedish architect to get ideas for the home.

Now, the property is a popular tourist attraction at Lake Tahoe, offering tours seven days a week during the warmer season. The foundation is paying for the major upgrades with funds given to it by private donations. It is also working with California State Parks.

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